Building Your Spiritual Home

Opening Many Doors

One of the ways to lead a rich life is to open as many doors as possible, and at least take a peak inside. If it looks good, try entering. If it feels good, stay a while, at least. If you stay in one room and don’t venture, you will feel secure, but your life will be very limited, dull. Staying secure is part of the death march. Trying new things does create anxiety. Part of finding the fullness of life is tolerating this anxiety, not letting it stop you.

Just for fun, I made a list of a bunch of doors that I have opened and entered and enjoyed:
First and best- having children
Making good friends
Meditation
Carlos Casteneda and the world of sorcery
Camping and love of nature
Gardening
Zen buddhism
Siddha Yoga
Journalling
Creative Movement and theater games
Reading auras
Teaching therapy
Flying a plane
Playing tuba
Doing the Phoenix puzzle
Lucid dreaming
Reading Tarot
Psychic exploration

I expect there are many more. The Phoenix puzzle is a good metaphor. It was a puzzle that appeared each week in the Boston Phoenix, a local newspaper. Each week it was different. One week it had pictures of twenty types of pasta and we had to identify them. Another week, it was a series of gravestones with initials and dates of death. We need to find out who was buried that day. Another time it was pieces of silverware needing to be named. Sometimes a number puzzle, or a code to be broken. And every week I would go on a journey, sometimes inside as I would struggle to decipher a code, or on an outer journey as I would ask five chefs if they would help me with the pasta. Sometimes it would take an hour, sometimes a whole weekend. I threw myself into them with my whole heart, which made them both exciting and fascinating. Then one day the Phoenix stopped publishing puzzles. A very sad day for me!

I learned a lot from this pursuit. For one thing, it was exciting only because I made it so important to myself. If I had accepted defeat when it presented itself, this hobby would have been pretty bland. For another I realized that one of the big plusses was all the interesting people I met looking for the answers: chefs, antique dealers, neighbors and others I enrolled in my pursuit. Finally it was a safe way to get involved in lots of different worlds. Every week a new search, unfamiliar terrain, struggle, get help, keep going, break through. This puzzle was a worthy but manageable opponent. It was a battle, but no one got injured, and in winning, no one had to be a loser.

Another personality trait that helped me to enjoy these paths is my willingness to do things badly. My wife, who believes anything worth doing is worth doing well, is in awe of me and my capacity for mediocrity. But I do think that this trait has allowed me to follow my interests without asking “am I qualified?”, “do I know what I’m doing?” I tolerate failure pretty well, so there is little that looks like fun that I can’t at least try.

Some of the opened doors have led to lifelong pursuits, like meditation or journalling. Some have happily ended after a while- I gardened vigorously for six years, took a sabbatical, and never returned. I currently feel I have a rich life, full of passions, like this writing I am doing right now, and am glad for all the paths I have tried.

1) What are some doors you have opened?
Which have worked?
Which have not?
2) Were there doors you wish you’d opened but didn’t?
3) Where are you on the balance between choosing security (sameness) versus adventure (pushing yourself into new turf)?
4) Make a list of doors you might like to open.

 

CHAPTERS

GET A LIFE
THE JOY OF A DEPRESSED MOTHER
OPENING MANY DOORS
GETTING COMFORTABLE WITH ANGER
THE PATH OF MEDITATION
GIVING UP CONTROL
MARRIAGE AS A CHANGE AGENT
STRUCTURES THAT SUPPORT LIFE
VERMONT AND NATURE
TO HELL WITH DIGNITY
COMPANIONS ON THE ROAD
DOUBLE VISION
WHAT SHAPES LIFE
DISMANTLING SELF
TOLERATING GOD’S LOVE
MAKING FRIENDS WITH GOD

 

 

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